Healthier Eggplant Parmagiana

healthier eggplant parmagiana

I consider eggplant parmagiana to be the ultimate comfort food. I love the creamy richness of a pan-fried-then-oven-baked eggplant, combined with a crispy, oily crumb coat. Add red sauce, cheese, and a heaping plate of pasta and I’m in heaven.

However, I made some big changes to what I eat recently, which I mentioned in this post. I read Mark Bittman’s Vegan Before Six, caught up on some basic nutritional science, and did my own research on how the food we eat affects our wellbeing. I’ve always been a vegetarian, but I finally gave up dairy, cut out hyper-processed starches and sugars, and started eating more whole fruits and veggies.

healthier eggplant parmagiana

Between the cheesy topping and the heap of pasta underneath, eggplant parmagiana is everything I aim not to eat now.

I remade this dish to fit some new guidelines. What’s left is eggplant, thickly sliced, creamy as ever, coated in almond meal “breadcrumbs” and cooked to a crisp in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Layered with tomato sauce, baked to creamy perfection. And served, as one of my favorite Italian restaurants does it, wonderfully pasta-less.

[I don’t subscribe to the paleo lifestyle, but if you do, this recipe is also for you, fitting every paleo guideline I can think of.]

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Hot Milk + Turmeric for a Sore Throat

hot milk with turmeric

It may seem strange to post a sore throat remedy during the first days of Spring. But just as I was beginning to enjoy the warmth and the extra hours of sunlight, I was hit by another bout of allergies. They’ve been acting up recently, and without rain to clear the air, this season has been especially bad. This morning I woke up with a dry, scratchy throat that even a good dose of Claritin couldn’t stop. 

My aunt passed down this recipe for an Indian sore throat remedy to me years ago. I’ve been using it ever since.  A mug of this turmeric-spiced milk first thing in the morning or shortly before bed brings almost instant relief. I like to make this drink piping hot, and sip it slowly. It soothes sore throat symptoms for 30 minutes to an hour after you drink it, depending on how bad symptoms are. Sometimes even longer, as in the case of these allergies. (I was cough-free for a full two hours after I drank this tonic.) When you’ve been suffering from a sore throat for few days, a simple hour or two of complete relief can be remarkably relaxing.

black pepper and turmeric

After browsing the modern-day research, my aunt’s recipe makes perfect sense. Turmuric has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It’s been linked to lowered Alzheimer rates in certain countries, and researchers think it may be effective against cancers and arthritis. Compounds in black pepper (pipeline) help with the absorption of turmeric and curcumin, it’s main medically active component.

Regardless of the health claims, one thing’s for sure— it’s soothing and does the body good. Combined with honey to sooth the throat and black pepper to clear congestion, it works small miracles.

Homemade Marshmallows

homemade marshmallows

I have been on the quest for the perfect homemade marshmallow for months. I’ve always been a sucker for the jet-puffed variety, but when I tried artisan marshmallows from a local store, I was absolutely hooked.

hot cocoa with homemade marshmallows

I set about trying to figure out how to make a batch this good at home. I tried the smitten kitchen recipe, hoping it would yield a springy marshmallow without my having to use a stand mixer (I didn’t own one). The results were good, but not great. The marshmallows sweated in the refrigerator, turning the cornstarch and powdered sugar coating crunchy and resulting in a slightly sticky mess. A month or so later, I tried to make a batch of the Baked marshmallows, with powdered gelatin and an electric hand whisk. Failed again, this time too dense, jelly-like, and still watery.

Both of my marshmallow failures were probably due to a lack of equipment. Perhaps a stand mixer would have made my life easier. However, I wanted a recipe that was simple, and that I could make with the equipment I had at home. I was beginning to think I was out of luck, and that marshmallow making should be left to the pros.

Enter the Alton Brown marshmallow recipe. It produced perfect, springy, soft-but-not-sticky marshmallows on the first try. These were marshmallows I could eat every day, for the rest of my life. And while my first attempts at marshmallow-making had been daunting, I had learned the basic steps by now— it was easy. I used my electric hand whisk and stainless steel bowl in place of a stand mixer, and checked my sugar by hand as it cooked down (without a thermometer). I still had excellent results. You will get fluffier marshmallows with a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, though, so use one if you have it!